Butternut Squash Soup with Tarragon

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Leaves are falling, temperatures are cooling and the soup is a simmering.  This is my favorite time of year for a bowl of homemade soup!  But so many choices….what kind to make?  Lured by the gorgeous pumpkin/squash/gourd display at the local market, I bought a butternut squash and decided it belonged in a lovely soup.

I’ve attempted many butternut squash soup recipes over the years – with and without cream, various spice combinations, different toppings,  etc – but the recipe that I keep coming back to is from Gourmet.  I love it’s simplicity: just a bunch of vegetables simmered in water with some salt and pepper, cooked until soft, and pureed.  This week I had lunch at one of my favorite local places, Cook & Garcia, and had a sneaky taste of my daughter’s butternut squash soup which had a bit of tarragon.  I’d never thought to use tarragon – I hardly ever use it in cooking, exception being egg salad (in which it is amazing, by the way).  However it really worked with the butternut squash soup.

Did I mention that the recipe is quite simple?  Chop some squash, potato, onion, carrot and celery.  Don’t worry about how neat your knife skills are as it’s all going to get pureed together.  Just be careful to not leave any larger pieces as they may not cook as quickly as smaller pieces.

Add water and simmer for about 20 minutes – quick!

You’ll be amazed at how rich and creamy this soup is without adding cream.  Serve with a simple green salad and some crusty bread and you’ve got yourself the perfect fall meal.

Butternut Squash Soup with Tarragon (serves 6)

Note:  If you don’t have fresh tarragon leaves, substitute 1 tablespoon dried tarragon.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 celery rib, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

500 g (1 lb) butternut squash (approximately half of a medium-sized squash), peeled and seeded

225 g (0.5 lb) potatoes

2 – 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

800 ml (3 1/2 cups) boiling water, plus additional for thinning


Heat oil in a large pot over low heat.  Add celery, carrot and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 10-12 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut potatoes and squash into 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) cubes (peel potatoes if you like, but I never do – saves time and it’s a good source of fiber).

Stir squash, potatoes, tarragon, salt and pepper into onion mixture, then stir in boiling water and simmer, covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup.  Easiest if you have an immersion blender – just puree it right in the pot.  Otherwise use a food processor or blender.  If soup is too thick, thin it out with a bit of water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with tarragon leaves.

Adapted from Gourmet

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